Swinhoe’s Snipe

This species is defined as a Review Species . Please submit your records of this species via our record submission page .

Scientific Name: Gallinago megala

Malay Name: Berkik Siberia Selatan

Chinese Name: 大沙锥

Range: Breeds in south-central Siberia and northern Mongolia; a separate disjunct population breeds in Ussuriland, in the Russian far east. Winters in parts of southern and eastern China, the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, and northern Australia.

Taxonomy: Monotypic.

Size: 27-29 cm

Identification: The rarest of three Gallinago snipes in Singapore, but possibly overlooked due to difficulty in separation from Pin-tailed. From Common Snipe, most obviously differentiated by a lack of clear white trailing edge to the secondaries, shorter bill and larger-headed appearance (see that species for more differences). Apart from a series of overlapping and weakly defined separation features, only truly differentiable from Pin-tailed Snipe with a clear view of the spread tail (or measurements in the hand). On this species, only the outermost pair of tail feathers are narrow (varying from 2 to 4 mm wide), while the rest gradually increase in width towards the central feathers (giving the impression of at least two intermediate-width tail feathers outside the central few, while Pin-tailed shows one intermediate-width feather between the central tail feathers and the six to nine pin-like feathers on the outertail).

Similar looking species: Pin-tailed Snipe, Common Snipe

Habitat: Damp grasslands, edges of waterbodies, and muddy freshwater marshes.

Behaviour/Ecology: Flushed Swinhoe's Snipes are often silent. A snipe that is silent when flushed is more likely Swinhoe's than Pin-tailed, but this is only suggestive. Vocal differences between the two species are poorly understood and more study may reveal that differentiation by flight calls is possible.

Local Status: Rare migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2016)

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BirdLife International. (2016). Gallinago megala. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22693090A93383287.en. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Leader, P. J., & Carey, G. J. (2003). Identification of Pintail Snipe and Swinhoe’s Snipe. British Birds, 96, 178–198.

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

Bakewell, D. (2014). Keep Calm and Study Snipes! Part 2. Dig deep. Retrieved September 19, 2021, from https://digdeep1962.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/keep-calm-and-study-snipes-part-2/.